Mobile Devices

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset Teardown

01 December 2012
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

IHS Insight Perspective

Samsung has been trying to out-Apple since the first iPhone by, like HTC or Motorola, taking whatever specs Apple has and "outdo" them - whether it's size of screen, thickness, megapixels on the cameras, etc. Samsung is most adept at this and have the products that compete best in this space, a position that is facilitated by Samsung having one of the most integrated supply chains in the business.

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Device View 1Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Device View 1

The Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones has many variants that range from entry-level to high-end devices where the higher-end one, such as the Galaxy S, is positioned to directly compete with Apple's iPhone. The Galaxy series is proven to be very successful by sales numbers and is so successful that HTC, one of Samsung's major rival after Apple, has adopted the concept and introduced the HTC One series which, although having only 3 phones (many variants exist among the 3 model though based on regions and carriers), spans the whole spectrum from entry-level to high-end within smartphone space.

Feature Significance

The Samsung Galaxy SIII, as seen in many other phones nowadays such as the HTC One, comes in many different variants depending on region and carriers. The version analyzed is a 16GB (32GB available) international version (GT-i9300) which differs mainly in the processor and air interface supported. The international version comes with Samsung's own quad-core ARM Cortex A9 with a clock speed of 1.4GHz and support up-to HSPA+ while, for example, the U.S version sacrifices its processing power by having a dual-core one but gain the faster LTE data connectivity.

Every Galaxy SIII runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with a 4.8 inch 1280x720 HD Super AMOLED display, 8MP Autofocus BSI primary camera, 1.9MP secondary camera which is also BSI. The secondary camera is the first we have seen from Samsung that it uses BSI in an image sensor less than 2MP (BSI is more common for 5MP and above) and also the first that has a square picture format of ~1394x1394 pixels with 1.9MP (common is 2MP with either 1920x1080 or 1600x1200). Another note on the secondary camera is that it is also utilized for the new "Smart Stay" function where it detects eyes movement when users read so the display will not turn off.

Other notable features include NFC capability and a barometer - a rare found in mobile phones. The device, when unveiled, was also said to be capable of wireless charging (with additional accessories) employing Samsung's magnetic resonant technology but it has not been materialized yet.

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Display / Touchscreen ModuleSamsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Display / Touchscreen Module
Design Significance

Overall design demostrates Samsung's vertical integration in virtually every aspect - from the Battery to the core processor to the display. Both the ARM cortex A9 quad-core processor and the Super AMOLED display are at the heart of the bulk of Samsung's portfolio and are a centerpiece showcase for Samsung to demonstrate their in-house technology.

The wireless interface portion of the design is where Samsung has to "outsourced" to Intel (previously Infineon). It is a typical design of Samsung using Intel's X-Gold 626 platform which is based on the PMB9811 Baseband and PMB5712 RF. The X-Gold 626 platform appears to be a popular non-Qualcomm design especially in phones that do not require LTE such as the HTC One X International, Lava Xolo X900, Galaxy SII and Galaxy Note.

Outlook and Implications

The Galaxy SIII is Samsung's flagship smartphone for 2012 and is expected to be the volume maker making up to about 1/3 of Samsung's global shipments which is at around 167 millions. Based on our preliminary estimate at the time this report is released, about 10M of the international version (device analyzed in this report) has been sold worldwide and the U.S version's (combining all carriers) number should be catching up.

Target Market

High end smartphone market

This kind of smartphone represents, more or less, the high end of the smartphone continuum, or at least is part of that higher end.


May 31 2012 per press release

Date release in UK

Pricing and Availability


Pricing found from multiple online vendors at the time of analysis (unsubsidized) (Aug 2012).


Volume Estimations

10,000,000 Total Units
1.5 Total Years

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed an Annual Production Volume of 10000000 units and a Product Lifetime Volume of 1.5 year(s).

Teardown volume and production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.

Market Performance

Per IHS iSuppli's research, smartphones are becoming the defining product that drives sales for handset OEMs, especially as entry-level and feature-phones fall by the wayside. In 2011, smart phones accounted for 33% of the 1.4 billion legal handsets sold; and by 2015 smartphones will grow to 60% of the total market. The future of the wireless handset industry will be shaped by trends in the smartphone segment.

Per IHS iSuppli's Design Forecast Tool: The total handset shipment will be around 1.44 billion in 2012, of which 655 millions will be smartphones and Samsung will contribute 167 millions (25.5%) towards the smartphone market in the same year. As stated above, our preliminary estimate also show that the Galaxy SIII alone may contribute as muas as 1/3 of that 167 millions.

Cost Notes

This section varies from device to device. At the very minimum it should consist of the "main cost drivers" table, but should also be the place where we talk about pricing assumptions made in the analysis. This section should always include the boilerplate text "What's Not Included in This Analysis".

Total BOM: $205.99
Top Cost Drivers below: $152.30
% of Total BOM 74%

Main Cost Drivers below

  • $65 - Samsung Mobile Display AMS480GY01 Display / Touchscreen Module - Samsung Super AMOLED, 4.8" Diagonal, 16.7M Color, 720 x 1280 Pixels, w/ Capacitive Touchscreen & PSA, Corning Gorilla II Tampered Glass- (Qty: 1)
  • $17.15 - Samsung Semiconductor S5E4412A01 Applications Processor - Exynos 4 Quad, ARM Cortex A9 Quad-Core 1.4GHz, 32nm, PoP- (Qty: 1)
  • $16 - Samsung Semiconductor KMVTU000LM-B503 MCP - 16GB eMMC NAND + 64MB Mobile DDR- (Qty: 1)
  • $14.66 - Primary Camera Module - 8MP, BSI CMOS, 1/3.2" Format, Auto Focus Lens- (Qty: 1)
  • $12.95 - Samsung Semiconductor K3PE7E700M-XGC2 SDRAM - Mobile DDR2, 1GB, PoP- (Qty: 1)
  • $6.14 - Intel PMB9811 Baseband / Power Management - Quad-Band GSM/EDGE, WCDMA/HSPA+, ARM Core, 40nm- (Qty: 1)
  • $5.48 - Murata Bluetooth / WLAN Module - Contains Broadcom BCM4334, IEEE802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0+HS- (Qty: 1)
  • $5.29 - Enclosure, Main, Top - Die-Cast Magnesium Alloy, w/ Injection Molded Polycarbonate Frame & FIP Gaskets & 3 Brass Inserts, Black & Silver Painted- (Qty: 1)
  • $4.9 - Samsung EB-L1G6LLU Battery - Li-Ion, 3.8V, 2100mAh, 7.98Wh, w/ Amotech NFC Antenna- (Qty: 1)
  • $4.72 - Samsung Electro-Mechanics 10-Layer - FR4/RCF HDI, 3+4+3, Stacked Via, Lead-Free, Halogen-Free- (Qty: 1)

Not Included in Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

We do provide an Excel tab "Overall Costs" where a user can enter thier known pre and post production costs to biuld a per unit cost reflective of thiers actual expenditures.

Manufacturing Notes

Samsung manufactures most handsets in house taking advantage of the vertical integrations of various components. In fact, per IHS iSuppli's Global OEM Manufacturing & Design (GOMDA) Q1 2012 - Wireless Handset report: Samsung outsourced only 3.6% of its handset production in 2011, and 96.4% is in-house volume. Its manufacturing partners are BYD and Kaifa, and their outsourced volume is respectively 2.4% and 1.2%.

The GOMDA also shows that Samsung's market share in wireless handset recorded 22.3% which ranks the second highest after Nokia with 27.4% in 2011. In 2012, it is expected Samsung's market share will climp to ~30% according to IHS iSuppli's Design Forecast Tool (DFT) - mobile Handsets H1 2012.

Country of Origin

For the purposes of this analysis, we are assuming the following country(ies) of origin for each level of assembly, based on a combination of "Made In" markings, and/or assumptions based on our knowledge of such equipment.

Box Contents - Korea, South
Camera Assembly - Korea, South
Display / Touchscreen - Korea, South
Main PCB - Korea, South
Misc PCB Assemblies - Korea, South
Other - Enclosures / Final Assembly - Korea, South

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of "finished" sub-assemblies (such as Display, Camera Module & Battery), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. "Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design Complexity

Component counts by assembly and the number of assembly are indicators of design complexity and efficeincy.

Component Qty: 807 - Main PCB
Component Qty: 2 - Display / Touchscreen
Component Qty: 83 - Camera Assembly
Component Qty: 23 - Box Contents
Component Qty: 74 - Other - Enclosures / Final Assembly
Component Qty: 44 - Misc PCB Assemblies
Component Qty: 1033 - Grand Total

The average smartphone we teardown ranges from 900 to 1100 components in all, although LTE designs push, sometimes, much higher (into the 1500 component range) - traditional HSPA+ designs such as this remain in line with historic smartphone complexity.

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Main PCB TopSamsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Main PCB Top
Design Notes

The core of the Samsung Galaxy SIII international verison is the Samsung's own Exynos 4 Quad Core applications processor. This is the second quad-core processor we have seen (after the HTC One X international which has the Tegra 3) and is expected to become the norm for new, high end smartphones over the course of 2012 with the new S4 from Qualcomm also.

The design, with the exception of the applications processors, closely resembles the Galaxy Note and the HTC ONE X International version utilizing Intel's X-Gold 626 platform for the wireless portion. The memory section is somewhat typical with a MCP housing 16GB eMMC NAND for storage plus 64MB DRAM for wireless modem and a Package-on-Package 1Gb mobile DDR on top of the Samsung quad-core processor.

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Main PCB Top (cont)Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Main PCB Top (cont)
We do note that the Audio Codec is again supplied by Wolfson Micro replacing the Yamaha chip in the Galaxy Note and SII. Wolfson has always been in Samsung's phones prior to the Yamama design win and now it is apparent that Wolfson has something special that Samsung likes.

Another interesting note is the use of the new Broadcom's BCM4334 BT/WLAN/FM chip which we have never seen in other design yet. The chip is a virtually a shrunk version of the BCM4330 by improving the process technology from 65nm to 40nm and is also the first 40nm WLAN IC that we have seen.

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Main PCB BottomSamsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Main PCB Bottom
The rest of the design is fairly conventional and features Broadcom's BCM4751 GPS, NFC functionality via NXP PN65N IC, MHL HD interface is supported by a Silicon Image SiI9244BO chip, which are all fairly common in today's high-end smart phones.

Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Box ContentsSamsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 Mobile Handset - Box Contents

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